Justifying TAG?

This really isn't a post; it's a question for any of our presuppers out there.

In the comment section of Acharya's introductory post, the topic turned to the transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG).

Paul pointed out that TA's were justified according to modus ponens, so that

<> P-->Q
<> P
:.Q
I'm assuming that P = universal laws of logic and Q = the Christian God, so that "If universal laws of logic exist, then the Christian God exists. Universal laws of logic exist, therefore the Christian God exists."

Normally, after making an argument, people seek to support each of their premises.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong (and, admittedly, I may be), but the way presuppositionalists normally attempt to justify the first premise (i.e. that the existence of universal laws of logic presupposes the existence of God) seems to be to say something along the line of "Prove to me that universal laws of logic can exist without God; you can't, therefore premise one is true."

This seems to me an odd way to "justify" a premise, i.e. by asking someone else to prove that it is wrong. That isn't to say that it is not a valid means for justifying, it just seems to be shirking the responsibility of justifying an argument you put forward.

Like I said, I may be wrong about how presuppers justify that premise. It seems, though, that this is what Bahnsen meant by his "impossibility of the contrary" arguments. Instead of saying, "In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary," [see here] he should have said, "The fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the first premise of TAG is true because of the impossibility of the contrary and, therefore, the Christian God exists."

I've argued with Manata before that it seems like Bahnsen's argument is more like:

P v Q
~P
:.Q

[I.e. "Non-Christian world view or Christian world view; not non-Christian world view, therefore, Christian world view."]

I still can't read the article I linked before without thinking that, but it seems to me that if the "impossibility of the contrary" argument is not at this stage of the debate, then it is definitely at play in the justification of the first premise of Manata's modus ponens argument.

Although I'm still not quite clear on how it would be particularly worded.

Help a brotha out, won't you? Tell me how you justify the first premise of TAG.

[As an aside, in another post, I attempted to demonstrate that the laws of logic are not necessarily universal. I have yet to see a detailed critique of why this cannot be the case.]

34 comments:

JustinOther said...

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not well versed in TAG. However, if you want a laymans opinion, it makes no sense to me. I know it's presup. But, how can you justify a presupposition. If I were to presuppose the existence of, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster using the same argument, The theists would refute it. Yet some use the very same argument to justify the existence of something just as well prove, namely God.

I just don't get it.

Zachary Moore said...

Dawson Bethrick has done a pretty good job of showing why this approach is nothing more than an assertion from ignorance.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Zach,

Thanks for providing this link.

A follow-up to the blog that Zach links to, is my response to numerous points that Paul Manata raised in his attempt to defend the legitimacy of TAG against the charge that it contains an appeal to ignorance. You can find that response in my blog Will the Real TAG Please Stand Up? It is worth reviewing just to see how chameleonic TAG is when it is put on the defensive. Notice all the different shapes it assumes as Paul tries to squirm out of a criticism which sustains all the counter he can throw at it. And what's interesting, where TAG is apparently supposed to be an argument proving that the Christian god exists (i.e., that something we can only imagine is more than imaginary), Paul's versions of TAG basically reduce to the argument that logic is incompatible with materialism. But this doesn't prove the existence of any invisible magic beings. Also, the blog's comments feature an interesting exchange with someone who calls himself Clarence the Theologian regarding Bahnsen.

As to Bahnsen's defense of TAG, readers may benefit from a brief analysis of Bahnsen's opening statement in his debate with Dr. Gordon Stein that I posted on my blog last year. My analysis, Bahnsen's Poof, seeks to uncover the inference behind Bahnsen's TAG, but finds none. Hence, Bahnsen does not offer a proof, rather he offers a poof, as if he were saying "I presuppose God, therefore Poof!! God exists!" Keep in mind that an opening statement is the statement that a master debater like Bahnsen would have been most prepared to present. And yet, it's interesting that he presents no clear argument whatsoever in his opening statement. I have asked many presuppositionalists to respond to my analysis by piecing together an actual argument from the statements that Bahnsen makes in his opening statement, and so far I know of none who have taken up this challenge. The typical response is to ridicule me personally, as if to say "Dawson, you moron! Of course Bahnsen argued! Even Michael Martin admitted that Bahnsen gave an argument!" Well, where is it? How do you conclude "Therefore, the God of Christianity exists"? Blank out.

In the final analysis, TAG is just a bluff, and its ulterior purpose is not to convince non-believers, but to keep believers at bay by suspending their minds in the conceptual permafrost of religious illusion. One of the primary mechanisms for achieving this end is the pretense that the only "solutions" to various persisting philosophical problems (e.g., problem of universals, problem of induction, preconditions of knowledge in general, etc.) are Christian-theistic in nature. This pretense is supported by embarrassingly naïve understandings of the problems themselves (e.g., failing to question Hume's conception of the problem of induction) and asserting that these problems cannot be resolved without appealing to Christianity's invisible magic being. This is why presuppositionalists tend to get so visibly upset when their arguments are scrutinized (that's IF they ever present any to be scrutinized in the first place), because in the end we're not supposed to understand, we're supposed to believe, and to so believe on their say-so, not on the basis of logical conclusivity of well constructed arguments informed with true premises.

Regards,
Dawson

CalvinDude said...

I find it ironic that John Loftus has said I'm not allowed to write any more about my presuppositionalist position, but then you go ahead and post questions for presuppositionalists to answer. Did you not realize that Loftus is not going to allow any response, exbeliever?

In any case, I want Loftus to either put up or shut up. If my view is so obviously erroneous, then Loftus should have no problem demonstrating that in an official written debate instead of on a severely limited blog post. I propose the thesis: "Logic presupposes the existence of God." I will affirm, Loftus denies. I will post the debate on my website and he can post it wherever he sees fit.

Should Loftus conveniently not have the time to engage in said debate, I am more than willing to debate exbeliever instead. Or anyone else who is a contributor to "Debunking Atheism." We can hash out details such as how many rounds, length of each section, etc. as soon as someone accepts this challenge.

If no one bothers to take the challenge, I will be forced to conclude you have no argument against my postion and are only seeking to silence me through threats instead of through a reasoned defense. Should any of you wish to engage in the debate, you can reach me at cd@calvindude.com or else just post a response here.

I won't be holding my breath.

exbeliever said...

CD,

JL's expertise is in evidentialist apologetics. He's already said that he is not very familiar with presuppositionalism.

I would be glad to debate you if you were a more formidable opponent, but you are in way over your head. From all of our interactions here, you have shown that you are philosophically naive and unable to follow the simplest arguments.

I think it would be a waste of my time to formally debate you.

Manata is a much better opponent, but one who would actually take time to respond to, time I'm not sure I have.

So, here's the deal for me. I would be glad to debate someone that you choose as a surrogate. Choose someone with some kind of formal philosophical training, or at least someone who knows how to read and understand an argument.

I have no interest in debating a novice like you. Choose a format that is brief so that this won't drag on forever, and if I approve of the format, I will be glad to debate your chosen surrogate.

How's that?

CalvinDude said...

Sounds like a cop-out to me.

---
JL's expertise is in evidentialist apologetics. He's already said that he is not very familiar with presuppositionalism.
---

I know he's not familiar with it. Why do you think he's trying to silence me instead of dealing with my arguments in a rational manner?

---
I would be glad to debate you if you were a more formidable opponent, but you are in way over your head.
---

Do you have ANYTHING besides ad hominem, exbeliever? Didn't think so.

I only mentioned you as a substitute to spare Loftus the disgrace of coming up with a poor excuse to not debate me.

---
From all of our interactions here, you have shown that you are philosophically naive and unable to follow the simplest arguments.
---

From all our interactions here, you have shown that you are more interested in attacking me personally than ever dealing with an argument I make. I'm willing to point that out in a formal debate, but apparently you recognize that you have nothing backing you up other than to simply repeat, "CalvinDude stupidly says" or "CalvinDude lying states." In a real debate, you know that I would bury you because you wouldn't be able to get away with pointless ad hominem and you would instead have to deal with the issue, something completely alien to you I know.

---
So, here's the deal for me. I would be glad to debate someone that you choose as a surrogate.
---

I can't "choose" a surrogate. Someone else would have to be willing to debate you (frankly, I don't know of anyone who would want to considering they'd have to put up with your personal attacks while never getting a single argument addressed). Thus, I cannot make a commitment for anyone else. You can either debate me or not.

As I said, I won't be holding my breath.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvindude, if a particular post is about TAG then of course you can argue your case. What I'm opposed to is when you spout off this argument to almost every question of ours.

This particular post is yours to argue TAG if you want to. This is what you've been waiting for...have at it.

As far as me debating you goes, get in line. However, I don't care to legitimize something that resides almost completely in the backwoods of apologetical arguments. It'd be a waste of my time because in the end, after some additional study, I believe it fails, and here's a hint at why I think this. It's an extremely minority opinion and has almost no scholarly defenders. Let it first convince them to take it seriously and then I will.

John W. Loftus said...

I personally would like to see Manata and exbeliever go at it on this one. I think exbeliever is uniquely qualified to deal quite a blow to TAG (or VTAG). I think we'd all learn something too.

exbeliever said...

CD,

Yes, I am very frightened of your awesome intellectual prowess. You may tell the world that exbeliever backed down from your debate challenge.

BTW, do you know what an ad hominem attack is? Do you know the difference between an ad hominem argument and a simple insult?

An ad hom says, "You are wrong because you are an idiot." An insult in a debate would be something like, "You are an idiot and in this particular case you are wrong because of X,Y,Z."

The latter is exactly what I did to you in the comment section of the last post. I called you names and then I addressed the issue. This is not an ad hominem, it is simply an insult (one that is, in my opinion, well-deserved).

Let me give you another example. Here is an ad hominem argument: "CalvinDude doesn't understand what an ad hominem argument is because he is an idiot."

Here is an insult followed by an argument: "CalvinDude, you are an idiot. You accused me of making an ad hominem argument when all I did was insult you before I demonstrated that you were wrong. An ad hominem argument is one that attacks the opponent instead of presenting why they are wrong. It is not fallacious to call someone a name and then prove them wrong with an argument (it's just rude)."

So there you have it everyone exbeliever is terrified by the prospect of debating the mighty CalvinDude.

exbeliever said...

I hope my question doesn't get completely derailed by this debate talk. I am really interested in the justification of the first premise of TAG.

Paul Manata said...

I am currently writing a response to this post, and the comments found therein.

I just wanted to pop in and point out Loftus' argument:

"I believe it [TAG] fails, and here's a hint at why I think this. It's an extremely minority opinion and has almost no scholarly defenders. Let it first convince them to take it seriously and then I will."

Ha! The reason why the argument fails is because it's in the minority and almost no scholars take it seriously.

Good reasoning.

Paul Manata said...

ex-b, that's not "the first premise of TAG" if that is understood that an argument that did not have that same hypothetical statement could not be a TAG.

You didn't read my post about the personal variable-ness of TAG, did you?

Now, if you mean that that is the first premise is how TAG is applied to you, fine.

Anyway, I'll try to answer you.

John W. Loftus said...

Paul, since I do not have the time to study everything out, there is nothing wrong with adopting the scholarly consensus opinion of things. We all do this all of the time in perhaps 90% of what we know. Besides, I have offered my own critique of presuppositionalism, even if you rejected it. You don't reject my case because it isn't reasonable. It is reasonable. You just rejected it.

Daniel said...

Calvindude,

If I'm not terribly mistaken, the reason you were threatened is because every debate we engaged in, you just ask the same question, "what is your basis for universal X" [X = logic, morality, etc]

And I think John was just a bit peeved since your question had been explicitly dealt with before, whether satisfactorily in your view or not, and he just wanted you to contribute more than a presupposition that
"God is necessary for X, therefore, you can't use X if you don't accept God's existence"

I think it is pretty crystal clear at this point that every atheist in the world rejects this presupposition, particularly when X = logic, morality, truth.

Anyway, you're doing pretty well in this thread. What I mean is, you haven't yet asked the $64k question. And, what I mean is, you haven't yet justified, or demonstrated the validity of, the premise "God is necessary for X," since you apparently simply define God as subsuming X, and/or baldly assert its truth.

Here is your spotlight...I mean, isn't this thread what your argument is all about. Pull out your guns, dude, and give it your best shot.

CalvinDude said...

Universal laws of logic presuppose the existence of God in the following manner. First, logic presupposes the existence of something. This thing we will call “A.” The first law of logic is “A is A.” This means that whatever A is, that is what A is (the law of identity).

In order for the laws of logic to be universal, however, certain other things must be true about “A.” Obviously, the first thing is that “A” must itself be universal. “A is A” only applies where “A” is. Thus, laws of logic based off the existence of “A” only apply where “A” exists too. These laws do not apply where "A" is not, for they presuppose the existence of “A” in the first place (this should be obvious).

Universal laws of logic also presuppose the unchangability of logic. If it were possible for “A is A” to be “A is non-A” at any time, then the laws of logic are no longer universal but contingent upon a time frame when “A is A” and that can change when “A is non-A.” Thus, “A is A” may be true today but not necessarily tomorrow, nor even yesterday. In such a case, the laws of logic do not apply to anything other than the “here and now” and one would be unable to make logical arguments about the past or future.

If the laws of logic are immutable (unchanging) then “A” must likewise be immutable. Note: this does not mean that all of “A” is immutable, but there must be some part of “A” that is immutable, and it is the immutable part of “A” that logic presupposes.

For the same reasons, “A” must be eternal. (Eternal means “timeless” or “outside the realm of time”, not necessarily “infinite in duration.”) If “A” were bound by time, then logic would only be valid in the time which “A” exists. Thus, before “A” exists there is no logic, and if “A” ever ceases to exist there is no logic. But this also brings up the fact that if there ever was a time when logic was invalid, there would be no reason to assume that logic is valid now. We would be left with uncertainty. Contradictions are valid until “A” exists, but somehow “A” magically changes it so contradictions are no longer valid? Such is absurd. Thus, we note that “A” must be eternal.

“A” must likewise be self-existent. If “A” is created by something else, then that something else may not be itself logical (in fact, it could not be “logical” according to the definition that logic is based off of “A” in the first place). And if that something else is not logical, then there is no reason to assume that the laws of logic based of “A” are universal (for there exists something—the Creator of “A”—outside the realm of logic). So if “A” is universal, then “A” must be self-existent.

Thus, “A” is universal, immutable, eternal, and self-existent, the very attributes of God. None of this is dependent upon the argument of "ignorance" (nor is it actually all that one can deduce from logic, but it should at least be a start).

Daniel said...

Not bad, CD. I suggest you try to write it as a simple set of premises and conclusions for us to more easily address it.

Good job, though. I'll look it over and think about it.

exbeliever said...

Paul,

I look forward to your response.

From the appearance of your comment, you are in a hurry right now, and I'm not really sure what you were trying to communicate (too many "that's" in your first line, and I lost you at the "is how" in your third line).

I could make out your second line (and, yes, I did read your personal-variable-ness discussion), and I would be curious to know how TAG would apply to me given that I lean toward non-universal laws of logic. If TAG truly "take[s] what the skeptic takes as a given, or admits," then would you start with my inclination that the laws of logic are linguistic and biological and then "reason[] from there and seek[] to show what the necessary preconditions [i.e. existence the Christian God] are for such entity to be intelligible is."

In other words, would you argue that the inclination that the laws of logic are linguistic and biological demands the existence of the Christian God? Or would you look for some other universal I admit and reason from there?

You can answer in your upcoming post.

CalvinDude said...

Brother Danny:
---
If I'm not terribly mistaken, the reason you were threatened is because every debate we engaged in, you just ask the same question, "what is your basis for universal X" [X = logic, morality, etc]
---

First, I wouldn't call what we do here "debate" since it's extremely limited blog posts and responses (this is why I wanted a real debate, because it would force us to all be more careful). Secondly, though, I fail to see why my question is "wrong." If you are going to assert a universal, why are you not required to demonstrate how it can be universal?

It is not encumbant upon the theist to prove that the atheist position is not universal (that would be forcing me to prove a negative); it is encumbant upon the atheist to prove that his position is universal. I have merely pointed out that time and again you atheists have assume universals and never once demonstrated how your view can have universals.

You can see from what I put above (even if you ultimately disagree with my conclusions) that I at least have a reason to assert universals. I want to know what your reasons are to assert universals. And no, I'm not saying that if you cannot provide a reason that "proves" my position is right--but I am saying if you cannot provide a reason then I have no reason to accept your position (in fact, I would have to accept it on faith).

Paul Manata said...

bro-danny,

Grab a logic book guy, and learn how to distill someone's arguments.

You should be able to put Calvin Dude's arguemnts into the form. Indeed, this is what most logic books teach people to do.

So, are you just blowing hot air?

Also, maybe CD "suggests" that you learn the ability of distilling arguments.

Paul Manata said...

well Joh, 90% of scholars think you're a joke, therefore your arguemnts fail.

:-)

CalvinDude said...

exbeliever asked:
---
and I would be curious to know how TAG would apply to me given that I lean toward non-universal laws of logic.
---

In that case, it isn't necessary to provide a logical proof of God's existence at all. God would transcend non-universal laws of logic, and thus could not be "proven" by those laws. Therefore, if you require someone to provide "proof" for God, you are in fact saying that you reject the idea of non-universal logical laws because "proof" for God can only come if there are universal laws of logic.

exbeliever said...

CD,

I agree with BD. Your last post was not bad at all. It was well-reasoned and articulate. If you can keep this up, I might be willing to take you up on the debate offer.

Here's a few thoughts, though.

logic presupposes the existence of something

[I'm taking your word "logic" to mean "universal laws of logic" throughout this post.]

I agree. Logic is about the relationships between objects and/or concepts. If no object or concept existed, there would be no universal laws of logic.

Now, all of the objects and concepts I am aware of are in the universe. So let me suggest that logic presupposes the existence of a universe in which objects and/or concepts exist or, at least, the perception of a universe in which objects and/or concepts exist. Fair?

Thus, laws of logic based off the existence of “A” only apply where “A” exists too. These laws do not apply where "A" is not, for they presuppose the existence of “A” in the first place (this should be obvious).

This is obvious and is the same point you made in your first line. Universal laws of logic demand the existence of something (e.g. a universe in which objects and/or concepts exist).

Universal laws of logic also presuppose the unchangability of logic.

If logic describes the relationships between objects and/or concepts, then what you are saying is that the relationships must be unchangeable. It is a leap if you say that the objects and/or concepts that logic relates are, themselves, unchangeable.

In other words, the objects and/or concepts that logic relates to may change (e.g. a bug may cease to exist). Logic does not demand that the objects and concepts don't change, just that the rules for relating them do not change.

If, however, you mean to say that the fact that objects and/or concepts exist cannot change so that objects and/or concepts do not exist if universal laws of logic exist, then I can agree with you, and this is the point that you made in line one.

To rephrase your argument, I would say that universal laws of logic exist only when a universe in which objects and/or concepts exist exists. No objects and/or concepts, no universal laws of logic. Universal laws of logic can only exist if objects and/or concepts exist for the laws to relate to each other.

If the laws of logic are immutable (unchanging) then “A” must likewise be immutable. Note: this does not mean that all of “A” is immutable, but there must be some part of “A” that is immutable, and it is the immutable part of “A” that logic presupposes.

I agree if you only mean that universal laws of logic cannot exist if some objects and/or concepts exist. In this way, something must exist for the universal laws of logic to exist.

If “A” were bound by time, then logic would only be valid in the time which “A” exists. Thus, before “A” exists there is no logic, and if “A” ever ceases to exist there is no logic.

This is where you go off the deep end, in my opinion.

First, your use of the concept, time, is unusual. If all time is space-time, then time does not exist without a universe.

If logic describes the relationship between objects and/or concepts, then of course it follows that if there were no objects or concepts there would be no relationships between objects and/or concepts.

It also follows that if all objects and/or concepts cease to exist, the relationships between all objects and/or concepts would cease to exist.

But this also brings up the fact that if there ever was a time when logic was invalid, there would be no reason to assume that logic is valid now. We would be left with uncertainty. Contradictions are valid until “A” exists, but somehow “A” magically changes it so contradictions are no longer valid? Such is absurd.

This doesn't follow at all. If there was a time in which no objects and/or concepts existed, there would be not relationship between objects and/or concepts.

Furthermore, there could be no logical "contradictions" if there were no objects and/or concepts to relate. Contradictions would not "be valid" because there would be nothing to describe in a contradictory manner.

The existence of objects and/or concepts does change things. Before there was nothing to relate, now there is.

Thus, we note that “A” must be eternal.

Depends on your definition of "eternal." If by you eternity you mean all existing space-time, then I agree that objects and/or concepts must "eternally" exist for universal laws of logic to "eternally" exist.

You mean something radically different, though, and you have not demonstrated your point.

Universal laws of logic would only demand the existence of objects and/or concepts. Those objects and/or concepts would not need to be eternal, just in existence if the universal laws of logic were to exist as well.

“A” must likewise be self-existent. If “A” is created by something else, then that something else may not be itself logical (in fact, it could not be “logical” according to the definition that logic is based off of “A” in the first place). And if that something else is not logical, then there is no reason to assume that the laws of logic based of “A” are universal (for there exists something—the Creator of “A”—outside the realm of logic). So if “A” is universal, then “A” must be self-existent.

This is also unfounded. It only matters that objects and/or concepts exist so that logic can relate those objects and/or concepts. It doesn't matter if the objects and/or concepts were created by something else that is neither an object and/or a concept. All universal laws of logic demand is the existence (or the perceived existence) of some objects and/or concepts. The origin of those objects or concepts is irrelevant.

And if that something else is not logical, then there is no reason to assume that the laws of logic based of “A” are universal (for there exists something—the Creator of “A”—outside the realm of logic). So if “A” is universal, then “A” must be self-existent.

You falsely assume, however, that whatever could have possibly "created" the collection of all objects and/or concepts (i.e. "the universe") is within the universe itself.

Universal laws of logic would, obviously, not necessarily apply outside of the "universe."

Again, you fail to prove your point.

Thus, “A” is universal, immutable, eternal, and self-existent, the very attributes of God.

But you have failed to demonstrate any of this.

Laws of logic would demand the existence of (or the perception of the existence of) objects and/or concepts because the laws of logic relate objects and/or concepts. The Christian God is not needed to explain the existence of universal laws of logic. All that is needed to explain them are the existence (or perceived existence) of objects and/or concepts.

[I should note, that I am not inclined to believe that the laws of logic are, indeed, universal. I am merely assuming this belief for the sake of this discussion.]

exbeliever said...

CD,

You wrote: In that case, it isn't necessary to provide a logical proof of God's existence at all. God would transcend non-universal laws of logic, and thus could not be "proven" by those laws. Therefore, if you require someone to provide "proof" for God, you are in fact saying that you reject the idea of non-universal logical laws because "proof" for God can only come if there are universal laws of logic.

Man, just when I started to think more highly of you, you go and write something like this.

I think the problem is with your inability to understand another person's position. You seem to know your own fairly well, it's just that when you try to understand someone else's, you go off-track. [BTW, this is an example of an ad hominem.]

If Chomsky and Pinker are right about embodied language, then it seems that there is reason to believe the concepts of "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. are embodied concepts. The laws of logic would not exist without these concepts.

Someone who accepts these concepts, however, would be able to prove or disprove ideas within that system.

It's like math. Numbers are concepts. Mathematics is a system that relates those concepts just like logic does. Within the system of mathematics, there are rules that prove or disprove theories.

If one accepts the rules, even without justification, they are able to prove or disprove various mathematical assertions.

Similarly, if one accepts the rules of logic (i.e. they accept a certain meaning of the concepts "not," "and," "is," "or," etc.), they can prove or disprove various logical assertions.

What you have failed in the past to understand, CD, is that I accept the same definitions of the concepts "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. that you do. We can both use these words to construct arguments and prove and disprove assertions within that system.

We can still have logical discussions based on the rules of logic no matter what we see as the basis of justification. This is just like the case of mathematics. Whether a person believes that numbers and mathematical rules actually exist or that numbers and mathematical rules are conventions or embodied doesn't matter when both have agreed to accept the rules.

Now, don't disappoint me further. You've written a good comment and that has helped your cause. Be careful to understand me before you respond.

John W. Loftus said...

Paul, I don't believe 90% of the scholars even know who I am. :)

CalvinDude said...

exbeliever,

A couple of points.

1) My argument for logic is based on existence of an object. There does not need to be more than one object (although there could be). One will suffice. Nor is it based on "the relationship" between objects, for a single object that exists still results in "A is A." So unless you want to say there's a relationship between an object and itself, then the "relationship" aspect is superfluous.

2) You err when you say: "Now, all of the objects and concepts I am aware of are in the universe." (Well, I suppose technically it's correct because you are speaking of those that you are aware of.) My argument, however, is not based solely on what exists in this universe but instead on what exists in all possible universes. The universality of logic transcends our own universe for there is no possible universe that could exist illogically.

3) Existence does not mean only physical existence. (Perhaps you are including non-physical existence in your term "concept" but I want to make sure we're clear on this.)

If you agree with the above, then I will comment further but I want to make sure we're on the same page first.

CalvinDude said...

exbeliver wrote:
---
I think the problem is with your inability to understand another person's position.
---

Obviously that would have nothing to do with the other person's inability to articulate his position. No, we must assume CalvinDude is an idiot because God forbid you not be able to explain your position to someone skeptical of it!

Daniel said...

Boy, Paul and Frank Walton are getting a little irate here in this post, and we aren't even using four-letter words or telling them their mommas stink.

Maybe they feel the strength of their TAG (and general presuppositionalism) is being carefully probed, and that strength is running down the inside of their jockeys in a stream of yellow...

Back to that whole contingency thing, Paul, if you don't mind. Is logic contingent upon God's existence, or not? You've said "no" before, but then asserted there you agreed with the obversion of your formal TAG:
If not p, then not q
[p = universal laws of logic; q = God]

As will be shown, you apparently didn't distill your own argument before making it.

Let me repost my favorite quote of yours, just to move things along:
If God did not exist then logic would not exist.

You can forget the other thread, and just keep it rolling right here, if you like. You were saying something about how:
God cannot deny Himself and so, yes, He is bound to being logical. But this escapes Euthyphro because logic is not outside God

But then lashed out your acerbic tongue, before your somewhat-duller mind caught up, and scolded me to go into a locked room to study for 6 months. Can you show me, please, whether or not you were wrong about that? In your presupposition, are you right or wrong about this whole contingency issue? Is P contingent upon Q? Is the conditional:
P, only if Q
correct?

exbeliever said...

CD,

1. You wrote: My argument for logic is based on existence of an object. There does not need to be more than one object (although there could be). One will suffice. Nor is it based on "the relationship" between objects, for a single object that exists still results in "A is A." So unless you want to say there's a relationship between an object and itself, then the "relationship" aspect is superfluous.

Yes, I do assert that "is" is relational. X is X relates the concept of X to itself. All of the laws of logic are relational like this.

Plus, there has to be more than one object and/or concept in the universe to have a law of logic.

For the law of identity, one must have an object or concept AND the concept of "is." The law relates the object or concept to itself using the concept of "is."

2(a). You wrote: You err when you say: "Now, all of the objects and concepts I am aware of are in the universe."

But you corrected yourself by adding: I suppose technically it's correct because you are speaking of those that you are aware of.

Which is exactly what I said in the first place.

2(b). You wrote: My argument, however, is not based solely on what exists in this universe but instead on what exists in all possible universes. The universality of logic transcends our own universe for there is no possible universe that could exist illogically.

That is an interesting assertion.

Let me try again to explain this to you.

Imagine a tennis court. The right and left sides of a court have two sets of lines. Inside (and including) the double set of lines is called the alley. When people play doubles (i.e. two people on each side of the court), the ball can land inside the alley and still be "in play." In singles (i.e. only one person on each side of the court), a ball landing in the alley is "out."

Now, these are not universal rules. Nothing states universally that a ball landing in an alley is "out." When players agree to the rules, however, the concept "out" becomes significant.

Similarly, the concepts "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. are concepts that have meaning when people agree on their meaning.

We can play the game of logic as long as we agree on the rules.

Now, this relates to your statement because I will agree with you that in any possible universe in which the concepts "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. are similarly defined, the laws of logic will exist. If those concepts are not present, however, there are no laws of logic.

Now picture a green court with lines on it. There are no rules that govern the play of any game with them. Does the court exist? Certainly. Does the game of tennis exist? Only if the concepts of serve, volley, slice, topspin, racquet, ball, etc. exist. Without these, there is no game.

All of the laws of logic are relational. They describe the relationships between objects and/or concepts. They would not exist in another universe if the concepts "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. did not exist in that universe.

Any universe we can imagine, however, must be logical because we understand the concepts of "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. We understand our world through these concepts.

I am inclined to believe this is so because they are embodied. They are part of the majority of humanity's biological makeup. We can't imagine the world without these relationships because of the evolution of our human brains.

The laws of logic would exist in any universe only if the concepts of "not," "and," "is," "or," etc. existed there or were mentally imposed on that universe by someone familiar with those concepts.

3. You wrote: Existence does not mean only physical existence. (Perhaps you are including non-physical existence in your term "concept" but I want to make sure we're clear on this.)

I believe non-physical "existence" is possible through supervenience.

I should be clear on this point. I am not an objectivist (I am very much opposed to objectivism, actually), and I make a distinction between materialism and physicalism. Traditionally, materialism has been the belief that everything that exists is material in some way. Physicalism states that there are some things that are immaterial (e.g. gravity) but that everything immaterial supervenes on the material.

I side with the physicalists here and say that something immaterial can exist but only if it supervenes on something material. Fair enough?

Paul Manata said...

Danny,

You're equivocating on contingent.

Anyway, I proved you wrong since on your view of contingency then logic is contingent in yoru worldview.

In my worldview to ask, "what if God didn't exist" is a nonsense question. God is necessary, logic is an attribute of God's. Therefore, logic is necessary.

No, the argument isn't p<-->q. So, study or no study, makes no difference to me.

You'd be bound to agree, though, that I need not waste my time with the unqualified. Do you think I am obligated to constantly refute every hair-brained attempt at refuting me?

I gave you the answers. Take some time and think about them.

Daniel said...

Paul,

I actually do see what I've done here -- I've tried to take your responses to other lines of argumentation:
If God did not exist then logic would not exist.
God cannot deny Himself and so, yes, He is bound to being logical. But this escapes Euthyphro because logic is not outside God

And it seems I wrongly tried to integrate them into the modus ponens. You're right that you aren't obligated to respond to such errors.

To clarify, your "if-then" concerning the universal laws of logic implying God's existence was set up for our worldview, correct? In that sense, you were saying that although in your worldview God is necessary, and logic is necessary, you recognized that only the latter holds true for the rest of us.

Okay. So when you made some statements that I found ambiguous, I see that you were defending YOUR worldview, in which you assumed your premises axiomatically (God exists, logic exists), and made a statement that appeared to contradict your assertion that logic is not contingent upon God. I see what I was confused by. I apologize for misrepresenting your position.

Furthermore, there needs to be a clarification as to what we are arguing, whether that universal laws of logic prove that God exist, that they have another foundation, or that they prove that God does not exist due to contingency. I see that if you do not argue that these laws are contingent upon God's existence [versus necessary], and simply argue that God's existence gives an explanation for the laws' existence, the argument is different than a straightforward:
"Universal laws of logic depend on the existence of God [and are thus contingent]" which is a subtle difference to someone like myself, and I missed it. Your argument seems to be that an atheistic worldview cannot account for those laws and/or is "borrowing" them from a theistic worldview.

Now, I am obviously not well-versed in philosophy (as I admitted previously), so I will let those two resident philosophy majors handle your TAG. I see they already have begun to check the premises. Calvindude seems more interested in seriously arguing and supporting this than you do, so I'll just read what he has to say.

When it comes down to it, your argument is that we are all presupposing God's existence by presupposing universal laws of logic (ULL), because the latter, your argument goes, has no foundational basis without the former, but, in your own worldview, where God is necessary, ULL do. I did a little studying (though not six months worth) and found this interesting and complex.

I see that if you are not arguing that God "created" logic, or that logic is directly contingent upon God's existence, then my efforts were misguided. I also see that even if I cannot "justify" the atheistic basis for the ULL, this is not the same as you "justifying" the theistic basis for the ULL. Also, as was pointed out by exbeliever, I think, some people do not argue that ULL exist, arguing that logic is contingent upon the existence of a universe/matter. I actually find this argument quite compelling, as a materialist.

Your (presups) worldview is interesting as well. On the one hand, it seems that to use God as an axiom violates classical foundationalism, given that axioms typically have to meet the following three criteria:
1) Is the axiom self-evident to all acts of cognition (whether introspective or extrospective)
2) Is the axiom undeniable without direct contradiction (Stolen Concept)
3) Is the axiom irreducible to prior concepts (foundational)

To 1), I can anticipate your response would assert Romans 1, which is really the same thing as an argument from design/creation. We would stalemate here, as I have never seen a god, the effects of a god, only a material universe with a lawlike nature; nor is the concept of god self-evident in my acts of cognition.
2) It is possible to assume all of the axioms of identity, logic, existence, consciousness, et cetera, without assuming God does indeed exist [this goes back to the TAG]
3) Since the concept of God resides in our brain, it is reducible to an immaterial consciousness, which makes it non-foundational

Obviously, you don't have to reply to the above, and I admitted my error.
Again, I apologize for the confusion. I appreciate your civility in correcting my error.

See, people can actually learn in a forum like this...

Bahnsen Burner said...

There is no mystery regarding the basis of the laws of logic, yet this is precisely what presuppositionalism requires in order to launch its apologetic program. The metaphysical basis of the laws of logic is the subject-object relationship of any consciousness capable of forming concepts, such as man's. The epistemological basis is the law of identity, which is one of the axioms. The orientation between subject and object is absolute (namely the primacy of the object, cf. objectivity), and the law of identity is incontrovertible (i.e., it cannot be untrue). There's no need to point to an invisible magic being in order to explain logic. Moreover, logic makes no sense in the cartoon universe which theism necessarily implies. In a cartoon universe, the arbitrary is the ruling standard. Is it "logical" that a coyote can be crushed by an enormous boulder only to get up and continue chasing after the road runner? The question is inadmissible since the standard assumed reduces to the primacy of the subject of the cartoonist (i.e., pure subjectivism). And what theist would say that his god cannot create such a resilient coyote, while a human cartoonist can?

Claiming that "God cannot deny Himself and so, yes, He is bound to being logical," does not rescue the apologist from the problem. Rather, he only complicates it for himself by essentially saying that his god did not choose to "be logical" (i.e., to govern its thoughts according to logical principles). Essentially, such a god has no choice in the matter; it's locked in ("bound") to being logical, which reduces logic to mere switch-throwing, as with a computer program (a computer does what it's purposed to do by its designers; it does not "choose" to be logical). Man, on the other hand, has a choice in the matter, which means morality applies (since morality is a code of values which guides man's choices and actions); in fact, it is because man faces choices that he needs morality at all in the first place. But in the case of a god which has no choice in the matter, since volition is denied, so is morality. Thus it concedes the horn of the Euthyphro dilemma which affirms that morality is meaningful independent of such a god. Since the Christian god has no choice in the matter, the apologist commits the fallacy of the stolen concept by claiming that morality has a theistic basis.

As for axioms, Paul has no excuse for his ignorance in this area, for I have already gone to great lengths to correct his mistakes on this topic here: Probing Mr. Manata's Poor Understanding of the Axioms.

Regards,
Dawson

exbeliever said...

Dawson,

I always appreciate your comments on this and your blog. I don't think I'll ever forget (or ever cease to plagerize) your terse summary of the presuppositionalist argument as "Duh, I don't know; therefore God exists."

Forgive me, though, for wanting to distance myself a little bit from your Objectivism. It's probably not necessary (I stated in a previous comment in this thread that I was not a fan), but I just want to make sure that other commenters don't attribute your ideas to me (and I'm sure that you will be glad to have a little distance between yourself and a "subjectivist" like me as well).

You know the way it is, people either love Rand's philosophy or hate it. I fall in the latter category (though I admittedly haven't given her a lot of attention--I read Atlas Shrugged and one other article that I don't remember the title of).

My comments, above, are probably sufficient to show where I would disagree with the "three axioms" of Objectivism, or at least, how they are supported in that philosophy.

Overall, I think that Objectivism has been good for atheism's cause from a pragmatic viewpoint, I just wish that I could trust the foundations a little more--plus, as a very democrat-leaning liberal, I am not happy with where Objectivism takes its adherents politically.

When I started to become familiar with atheistic blogging, I was fascinated to find that the main voices in the debate were Objectivism and Presuppositionalism, two philosophies on the "fringes" of academia. Both have so, relatively, few adherents that I was surprised by their overrepresentation in the blogosphere.

I hope that this "distancing" does not affect your willingness to comment on this blog. If my posturing angers you, I'm sure my opinions are not shared by the other's here--I think I read somewhere that a team member, here, considers himself a kind of Objectivist.

I was very skeptical when Dr. Moore, Aaron K, and you started commenting here, but I have to admit that you all have shattered my previous stereotype of "Randroids" (not saying that any of you are one, just that I had the inclination to lump all of you into that category).

Anyway, I hope this is not taken the wrong way. I just wanted to clarify for my own sake (and I cannot imagine that you would not want to be associated with my views either).

Thanks.

Daniel said...

Dawson,

I read your post addressing Paul's critique of axioms. It was indeed interesting, and I suggest others ought to read it as well, whether they agree with Objectivism or not. I also enjoyed seeing Paul's anger come out as you basically whipped him like a pup:
Hey, I have something in common with Immanuel Kant and Dawson has something in common with an ugly Russian whore (you know, all those stories with Brandon, 'n all).

Paul accuses you of "Randroid rage" while calling Rand an "ugly Russian whore". Oh, the irony, especially considering that Paul has admitted to using "roids" himself, and I am somewhat willing to bet [money] that those who frequent Paul's posts and comments will agree that the ratio of: Dawson's rage / Paul's rage ---> 0 (approaches zero)

That said, I am glad Paul now no longer uses violence, rather than words, to get his points across, and I said as much on his testimony, and I am glad he is a changed man with a new life.

I also enjoyed reading your critique of Paul's presentation of Reformed theology as the sole foundation by which we can "interpret reality". I am learning more and more about presuppositionalism, and enjoyed your extrapolation on the phrase "interpret reality" insofar as Van Til and others used it.

Now, before someone accuses me of being a boot-licker, let me follow up on exbeliever's comment with the guess that he may have read my autobiographical sketch and saw I render myself a "Neo-Objectivist". The major disparities I have with Objectivism are the treatments of ethics, politics, and art as extrapolations of the major principles. I won't go into why I side with Hume on the naturalistic fallacy, [and thus disagree with Rand's jump from identity to ethics] but suffice it to say that Dawson and I have [apparently] some things to differ over.

Regardless of that, I would not call Rand "an ugly Russian whore" nor would I call Calvin "an evil witch-burning troll" nor would I call Paul to send my condolences after reading Dawson's lucid thrashings of him ;)

Calvindude,
Are you going to continue? I'm much enjoying reading the standard presup justification. I am learning a lot.

Paul Manata said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/response-to-ex-believer-and-his.html